There has been a lot of talk about “Home Field Advantage” lately and it occurred to me that all the focus has been on the team’s performance (record) while playing in their home stadium. Last Sunday while I was watching the fourth quarter of the Cincinnati – Denver game it occurred to me that at times, it’s the venue itself that provides the advantage or disadvantage. Without question, the Broncos have a distinct advantage playing at home because they are acclimated to the altitude. During that fourth quarter, I witnessed three different Cincinnati players all pull up lame due to altitude related (cramping, shortness of breath, etc.) symptoms.
So for a quick moment, let’s take our focus off the teams on the gridiron and focus on the stadium itself and its fan base. I’m sure there is more but three topics come to mind: penalties (false starts), injuries, and the kicking game.
Let’s talk about injuries. My recommendation is teams visiting Sports Authority Field at Mile High automatically have one point added to their J-rating for players who are J1 through J-3. This could provide a realistic home field advantage to the Broncos. Now let’s focus on the playing surface, nine NFL stadiums currently have Field Turf (Cincinnati, Detroit, Indianapolis, New England, Atlanta, Minnesota, St. Louis, Seattle and the new Meadowlands Stadium) which has been proven to cause a higher rate for ankle sprains. So whenever an injury occurs and the player is identified, why not roll one die and if the dice roll is a “six”, that player sprained his ankle and his effectiveness is reduced by one-point for the remainder of the game.
What impact does the fans have on the game? Just ask one of the crazed “12th” men at CenturyLink Field because they have caused more false start penalties over last three years than any other venue in the league. Here are the top five “loudest” stadiums which have contributed to the most false starts over the last three years.
- CenturyLink Field
- University of Phoenix Stadium
- Mercedes-Benz superdome
- Lambeau Field
Food for thought, whenever the opponent is playing in one of the above venues and its third and long (greater than 7 yards), roll one die and if it is a “six” the crowd noise resulted in a false start penalty.
Last but not least, let’s look at weather conditions. NFL teams with open-air stadiums ranked by average wind speeds (windiest to least windy)
- Buffalo/Orchard Park, New York 16.1
- New England/Foxborough, Massachusetts 14.5
- New York Giants/East Rutherford, New Jersey 10.1 New York Jets/East Rutherford, New Jersey 10.1
- Kansas City, Missouri 10.6
- San Francisco/Santa Clara, California 10.6
- Cleveland, Ohio 10.5
- Chicago, Illinois 10.3
- Green Bay, Wisconsin 10.0
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 9.5
- Washington/Landover, Maryland 9.4
- Miami Gardens, Florida 9.2
- Cincinnati, Ohio 9.0
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 9.0
- Oakland, California 8.8
- Seattle, Washington 8.8
- Baltimore, Maryland 8.7
- Denver, Colorado 8.7
- Tampa, Florida 8.3
- Nashville, Tennessee 8.0
- Jacksonville, Florida 7.8
- Charlotte, North Carolina 7.4
- San Diego, California 7.0
This results in a mean average of 9.65, so let’s round it up to 10. Using a +2/-2 rule, if the venue you are playing at is between 12 to 8 rated, you will read the board result from the Master game booklet in accordance by rules (i.e., by quarter 1-3 and 2-4). If the venue is greater than 3 (Gillette Stadium or New Era Field (formerly Rich or Ralph Wilson) you will always use the worst line result for the visiting kicker. For stadiums with less than 3 or dome stadiums, both team’s kickers will use the more favorable column.
These are just subtle nuances that could have a major impact if it occurs at the critical juncture of a contest. Food for thought, would love to hear anyone’s thought on the matter.